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WHALLEY ABBEY

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The site of Whalley Abbey, a Cistercian abbey founded in 1296 and dissolved in 1536. It was constructed in response to the monks at the abbey of Stanlow in Cheshire, who were suffering flooding from the River Mersey during the latter part of the 13th century. The upstanding remains include the north-east gateway, the north wall with round bastions, the ruins of the east and south ranges of the cloister, the abbot's lodging, the late 13th century Peter of Chester's Chapel, the north-west gateway and the foundations of the nave. The church was partly excavated and along with the octagonal chapter house, the plan shows through the turf. The 14th century gatehouse is now in the care of English Heritage. The remains demonstrate the usual layout of a Cistercian abbey but not the standard orientation. Traditionally monastic buildings were laid out so that the church ran east-west and formed the north range. At Whalley however, to enable the best use of the water supply it was necessary to align the church on a north-north-west/south-south-east alignment. The oldest part of the abbey is the north-west gateway built from 1320. Building of the church began ten years later and was completed in 1380. The cloister, abbot's lodgings and infirmary were completed by the 1440s. There are also the remains of the abbot's lodgings, built by Abbot Paslew in the 16th century. The ruined walls overlying the eastern end of the abbot's lodgings and the abbey's infirmary are the remains of the long gallery. This was built after the Dissolution by the Assheton family as part of their new manor house. Other sections of this manor house are now used as a conference centre. The porter's lodge is now a ticket office, and to the east, in the location of the 17th century buildings associated with the Assheton mansion would have been the abbey stables. From the 18th century the abbey passed through various families until 1923 when the house and grounds were bought by the church.

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